MCSO deputy’s decision to donate organs applauded by Penzone, others
PHOENIX — The decision by a Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputy who died Monday in the line of duty to donate his organs is one that could end up saving lives.
Sheriff Paul Penzone on Tuesday applauded the move by deputy Juan Ruiz, who died after an uncuffed suspect beat him unconscious on Saturday.
Penzone was present Monday for Ruiz’s honor walk, a ceremonial process in which surgeons take a donor patient from a nursing unit to an operating room for organ procurement.
“We know that’s the last time we will see him but that his legacy will live on in the others who receive his organs and live on because of it,” Penzone told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show.
Nico Santos, a spokesman for the Donor Network of Arizona, said Ruiz’s decision could help one of the nearly 1,600 Arizonans waiting for a life-saving organ transplant.
One organ donor could save up to eight lives, Santos said. Kidney transplants are the biggest needs.
Only about half of eligible Arizonans are signed up to be organ donors, according to Santos, but more are open to it.
“The impact they left behind for the direct recipients, their families and the communities that surround them is nothing short of heroic,” Santos said.
Ruiz had been on life support following the Saturday attack at a substation in Avondale. He had taken Clinton Robert Hurley, 30, to a cell and removed the handcuffs.
Other deputies found Ruiz bleeding and knocked out in the cell. Hurley had escaped, taking Ruiz’s patrol unit.
Hurley, who was being processed on multiple felony warrants when he escaped, was the subject of a manhunt starting around 11 a.m. after Ruiz was found.
He was eventually shot by a homeowner near Tonopah on Saturday and hospitalized.
Penzone said Ruiz’s family has been grieving but hope his organ donations will help others.
“Their love and compassion and the way they cared for him was amazing,” Penzone said.
KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino contributed to this report.